The Dilemma Caused by State Recreational Marijuana Laws

recreational-marijuana

State Recreational Marijuana Laws

Even with the progress that can be witnessed across the country, the push to embrace medical marijuana has never been an easy undertaking. Recreational marijuana faces even harsher odds despite the fact that, according to NORML, it is the third most popular drug used for pleasure after alcohol and tobacco.

In disregard of any legal position, people are using marijuana every day to add fun to their lives both as individuals in private and as bonding buddies in social settings. Many are not afraid of the heavy penalties that come with being found guilty of dealing in the plant.

These individuals give many reasons why they take risks for this substance – despite reports that the psychoactive THC element causes mental disorders, some of which can result in harm to self and others. Some claim that, after lighting up, they get more enjoyment out of things like art, music and meditation. Others see it as a source of energy and motivation that lets them find physical activities like hiking, dancing, workouts and even sex more fun. There are even those who have said that recreational marijuana makes mundane chores less stressful.

The 2018 Farm Bill

The 2018 Farm Bill, also known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, allowed for the legal cultivation, distribution, and use of industrial hemp and hemp products, including CBD derived from industrial hemp. This has become a game changer, not only for use, but also for the transfer of CBD products between state lines.

The Farm Bill does come with some regulations. Although the bill does legalize hemp, hemp cannot contain a THC concentration higher than 0.3%. Any strain containing more than 0.3% cannabis is legally designated as marijuana.

The bill also put further regulations on the sale, growth, and cultivation of industrial hemp. Although these regulations may seem strict, they’re put in place to ensure the safety of the end-user while making way for new research on the potential effects and benefits of CBD.

How Many States Allow Legal Recreational Marijuana?

As of this writing, marijuana is legal for recreational use in the District of Columbia and eleven other states:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Colorado
  • Nevada
  • Michigan
  • Vermont
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • Illinois

However, even with legal recreational use, each state comes with varying laws about selling, growing, and owning marijuana. For example, Vermont allows for the growth and possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults 21 and over. Larger amounts of marijuana possession may result in a misdemeanor or felony charge. By comparison, cannabis laws in Illinois allow for possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis flower. Illinois is also the first state to legalize recreational distribution of marijuana, along with recreational use.

Even if your state allows for recreational marijuana, make sure you still look into specific laws regarding possession and usage.

How Will Recreational Marijuana Be Taxed?

Taxes on recreational marijuana sales vary from state to state.

  • Of the states that allow for recreational marijuana, Alaska (which lacks a state-level sales tax) is the only state to not have any sales tax for the end-user. However, the state does require growers to pay $50 per ounce of marijuana sold to retailers or dispensaries. This often results in higher prices, but the end-user does not have to pay a tax on marijuana products.
  • In California, growers and cultivators are required to pay $9.25 per ounce for marijuana flowers and $2.75 per ounce for marijuana leaves. Retailers also collect a 15 percent excise tax from customers based on the average market price of the product.
  • Oregon does not have a sales tax, but the state does charge a 17 percent tax on all marijuana products.
  • Washington charges a whopping 37 percent sales tax on all marijuana products.
  • In Colorado, cultivators have to pay a 15 percent excise tax when selling to retailers. The state also takes a 15 percent sales tax from customers.
  • Nevada imposes an excise tax of 15 percent Fair Market Value on the sale of marijuana from a cultivator to a distributor. The state also implemented a 10 percent sales tax for consumers.
  • Massachusetts has an excise tax rate of 10.75 percent.
  • Michigan legalized recreational marijuana in December of 2018 and has yet to roll out a legal market, though the initiative states a 10 percent excise tax.
  • Similarly, Vermont legalized marijuana in 2018 and has yet to set up a legal market.
  • Maine legalized recreational marijuana in 2016 but has yet to create a legal market. The state aims to roll out its market by the end of the year.

In Washington, D.C., while possessing and growing marijuana are legal, selling it in a legal market is still prohibited.

Recreational marijuana laws show that we’re heading in the right direction and may hopefully lead to legalization and decriminalization on a federal level.